Some clients are happy to hand the cash over with a smile at the end of a session. Others prefer to do it more discreetly by leaving a stack of bills out in the open for you. It makes the whole experience feel more romantic, separating the monetary exchange from the sexual one.

Roman seems to be waiting for me to go, but doesn’t say anything about the money, which is nowhere to be found. So I proffer my usual line when it comes to asking for cash.

“I should head home and get to bed,” I say. “We just need to take care of business before I leave.”

He looks puzzled. 

“What do you mean?”

I try a more straightforward approach. “I just need to get the money and then I can head out.”

“Oh,” he says. “You want money?”

I flip back through our initial exchange. He had messaged me online first, but after the initial contact, we’d been communicating by text. I remind him that he had sent me a note on my escort profile.

“Did I?” he replies. “Well I don’t know why. That’s not something I do.”

“Well, it’s something you did,” I offer, doing my best to smile. “When someone contacts me as an escort, I assume they understand that’s the arrangement we’ll be meeting under.”

He looks surprised but not angry, and says he’ll check his wallet to see what he has. He returns after a few minutes with 45 euros, considerably less than my hourly rate. I let him know what the total amount should be, and he just says that’s all he has.

You occasionally have clients who come up short at the end of a date. It can be a legitimate mistake, when they think they had more cash on hand. Other times, they decide in the middle to extend the session but don’t have enough to pay the total amount. 

Normally they’ll offer to drive to an ATM. At the very least, they’ll send the money online, or meet the next day to settle up. But completing a session with the client having no apparent idea there was a financial transaction taking place is not a situation I’ve ever encountered.

I’ve heard of guys using threats to intimidate clients into paying up. But despite the fact I’m sure I could take him in a fight, that’s not a road I want to go down. I always assume if I do a good job, the person will not only be happy to pay for my services but will also want to see me again. 

Aside from this misunderstanding, he seems pretty ecstatic about the exchange we’ve had so I suggest we just connect another time and settle the account. As I’m biking home, I’m already 75 percent sure I’ll never see him again.

In the off-chance he’s legitimately looking to make good, I send him a flirty text the next day, asking if he’s up for a meeting that night. He replies that I’m always welcome at his place. A promising sign. 

I ask when and he says after 9pm. His next message is slightly cryptic.

“What are you proposing?” he texts.

“Another massage?” I reply.

“That was only an experience,” he writes back.

“Ok, so what are you looking for?”

“A drink in my garden,” he says.

“And in terms of money?” I ask.

“What do you propose?” he replies.

“Well,” I write, “I’d like to get the rest of the amount from last time.”

Ten minutes go by without an answer from Roman. Finally, he replies, saying that he looked at my profile and I don’t list prices — which is true. Like most escorts, my rate varies depending on the service. I’d rather know what’s being asked of me before I give a quote. 

I point out that my profile is clearly labelled as an escort and appears on a separate section of the site as to avoid confusion. He says he’s not looking for that, indicating that he’s attractive enough to get it for free. Besides, he’s checked online and a lot of other guys are cheaper. 

I hear this sometimes and I always take it as an opportunity to remind clients that in the sex business, much like the rest of life, you get what you pay for. Escorts that charge deceptively low rates often operate as scam artists. They come in, get the cash, rush through things and then say they have to leave for some reason, the assumption being that since you’re not giving them very much, you’ll let them get away with it. 

It’s radio silence for the next half hour. I send him a final message, saying I’d like to meet some time to collect the cash. He doesn’t respond, but I’m not surprised. It’s clear that unless I’m willing to do him for free, I’m not going to see him again. Not only that, he has no desire to give me what he already owes me. 

I can’t be 100 percent certain of what happened. But I’m guessing it was a somewhat honest mistake. He likely also sent messages to a few regular guys around the same time that he started talking to me, so maybe when I replied by SMS, he didn’t actually know who he was talking to. 

I should have clarified from the beginning. But with so many years in the trade under my belt and never getting screwed, I just assume I can trust people. 

There’s also the equally naïve assumption that people who don’t ask about money don’t care about it. I’ve had a handful of guys who don’t ask about my rate in advance and then throw $500 on the table at the end of the session. In the case of Roman, I had to just take it as a learning experience. 

Communication is critical to sex work. It’s on your shoulders as the worker to ensure everyone is one the same page. If you don’t negotiate in advance, you can’t be sure what will be asked of you or what you can expect in return. And while some surprises can be sexy, misunderstandings usually aren’t.

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